New Lakeland riverside entrance opens

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Lakeland Hospital in Niles officially opened its new riverside entrance on Wednesday.
The opening of the new river entrance signals the completion of the first of three building phases before the hospital's estimated $21 million construction project is completed in 2005.
The new entrance gives easy access to 12 new outpatient endoscopy pain clinic suites and the hospital's new surgery waiting room.
The new waiting room and the outpatient rooms all have a view over the St. Joseph river, which is hoped will help provide a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere for both patients and their visitors.
Charge nurse Mary Cavanaugh and staff nurse Agnes Farr said the new facilities are already making life easier, both for patients and hospital staff.
They said the new outpatient rooms are designed to be practical for the nurses, while ensuring the comfort of the patients during their stay.
In the past, the outpatient rooms were separated by curtains, which sometimes made it uncomfortable for patients to answer personal questions about their conditions, she said.
The nurses who work at the endoscopy pain clinic now also have much larger procedure rooms, Farr said.
Farr, who has worked at Lakeland for 23 years, said that saves the nurses from moving a lot of heavy equipment around in the building.
Debra Johnson, executive director for the Lakeland Regional Health System in Niles, said the second construction phase, which began when the hospital closed down its former main entrance on the hospital's west side earlier this year, should be completed by the end of 2004.
At the former main entrance, construction workers are currently working on an outpatient space, as well as on a second floor inpatient unit, she said.
In addition, a new basement under the former front entrance will become the hospital's new radiology room, she said.
The hospital will in its third and last building phase move its pharmacy to the second floor.
Johnson said the idea behind the construction project is to increase the convenience for the hospital's patients and visitors.
That is becoming increasingly important because most hospitals today have more outpatients than inpatients, which is a result of more efficient hospitals and more knowledge on how to deal with people's conditions.
The new endoscopy pain clinic suites, which all have their own private TV's and air condition, is a good example of what the hospital wants to provide for its patients.
She said many outpatients often spend only a few hours before they are ready to go home after their procedure. "It's just a nice homy atmosphere."
But although the hospital wants people to have a pleasant stay there, they also cater for people who may have to work while waiting for a relative or family member receiving treatment or surgery.
That's why, like so many other public places today, the hospital offers tables where people can work on their lap top with the possibility of hooking up to the internet.

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